From recording and podcasting to live streams and post-production, pro content creators are busier than ever. While mobile and computing hardware and the apps that drive them have become ubiquitous, having the right capturing and monitoring gear can make all the difference in delivering truly studio-quality content.
Not long ago, professional technology was typically out of reach for home or smaller studio budgets; musicians had to either spend their life savings on premium gear or high-end recording sessions. But today, creators can be up and running for as little as a few hundred dollars and be able to create impressive-sounding productions.
Researching the market and staying on top of the latest technology can be daunting. While your upgrade process can be as complex as you want to make it, here are some simple yet powerful considerations to expand your creative options and bring professional-grade sound to your recordings, productions and podcasts.
1. JBL Studio Monitors: Experience the Difference
Studio monitors may be the most critical components for studio production. They enable you to manage your mixes with precision while keeping ear fatigue in check. By referencing your music on professional studio monitors, you can achieve flat, neutral sound reproduction; versus standard monitors that can “flatter” sound by enhancing highs and lows but more often than not limit the time you can spend capturing and shaping sound.
JBL 3 Series MkII Powered Studio Monitors are an ideal choice thanks to their patented Image Control Waveguides, which provide detailed imaging and a wide sweet spot. Additionally, built-in room-correcting EQ takes problematic acoustics out of the equation. Most importantly, these monitors reproduce sound exactly as intended with no hype and no coloration. With three models to choose from, 8″, 6″ and 5″, and a 10″ powered studio subwoofer, there’s a 3 Series MkII to fit any studio or budget.
- JBL 7 Series Master Reference Monitors are perfect for scaling up as your studio needs and budgets grow. They deliver exceptional clarity with remarkable detail and an even bigger sweet spot. The low-frequency port design works in concert with the low-frequency transducer to produce an accurate bass response at all playback levels and the JBL Intonato 24 Studio Monitor Management Tuning System offers intuitive remote control and calibration. Available in four models, 5″ or 8″, installed or powered, the JBL 7 Series efficiently delivers exceptional output, stunning detail, an expansive soundstage, and impressive accuracy.
2. AKG C214 Microphones: Pro-Grade Condenser Mic Capture
Making a well-informed choice when investing in a studio mic will pay lengthy dividends in experience satisfaction. The AKG C214 can record a range of performances with the ideal balance of depth, clarity, and sensitivity. Large-diaphragm condensers can typically be costly but the AKG C214 delivers everything needed in a premium studio condenser without a premium price tag. The C214 was designed as a cost-effective, single-capsule alternative to legendary C414 microphones that have captured some of the most well-known audio recordings. AKG C214’s key benefits include its integrated spider suspension, which reduces noise; a switchable bass-cut filter, which reduces rumble and allows close-up recording with almost no proximity effect; and a switchable 20 dB attenuation pad that allows the mic to handle extremely loud sources, up to 156 dB SPL.
3. AKG Closed-Back Studio Headphones – Evaluating Fine Mix Details
When you need to immerse yourself even deeper into the mix, professional-grade studio headphones provide a consistent reference for evaluating the finest details. Headphones come in a variety of styles, but closed-back models, which have sealed earcups, offer the greatest acoustic isolation, preventing sounds from leaking out and blocking ambient noise from seeping in. These sound-isolating qualities make closed-back headphones especially ideal for monitoring and mixing without distractions.
AKG K361 Studio Headphones are precision-engineered to reproduce natural, balanced audio in exceptional detail, across an ultra-wide frequency range, thanks to their high-sensitivity and largest-in-class 50 mm drivers.
- AKG K371 Studio Headphones featuring Titanium Drivers go even further, delivering an extended frequency response from 5 Hz to 40 kHz and match AKG’s Reference Response acoustic targets to reproduce natural, balanced audio exactly as intended.
- Bluetooth versions (K361-BT and K371-BT) of both of these studio headphone icons are available with built-in mics, audio playback, and phone call controls.
4. Soundcraft Notepad Mixers – Intuitive. Streamlined. Flexible.
So, you’ve been controlling your input and output levels with the mouse? Discover a much easier and more intuitive mixing process with real knobs and faders. Soundcraft Notepad mixers were designed to combine legendary analog Soundcraft circuitry with premium digital effects in a compact and affordable desktop USB unit. Notepads are perfect for smaller-format recording scenarios but let you record and manage multiple simultaneous sound sources. The Notepad Series is available in three configurations: the 5-channel Notepad-5, the 8-channel Notepad-8FX, and the 12-channel Notepad-12FX. And all Notepads feature genuine Soundcraft analog preamps, the source of the legendary “British Sound”.
Having the ideal gear to create studio-quality sound is paramount but having the right support strategies in place to support your new studio ensures that you and your clients are comfortable and confident when it comes time to create.
- Accessories – High-quality accessories like premium mic stands and cables can go a long way. Well-made mic stands reduce vibrations and put your vocalists at ease. Better-built mic cables need to be durable to handle the rigors of being one of the most-handled components of your day-to-day gear. If your mic doesn’t come with a pop filter, this inexpensive accessory can make a big difference in ensuring well-recorded vocals.
- Organization – Ensure that you have a clean and efficient way to organize your work by taking notes, using a digital backup system and storing content on redundant hard drives and/or cloud storage – there’s nothing worse for you, your clients and your reputation than losing their creative work because of a system crash and poor preparation.
- Ambience – Home studios are imperfect sonic environments and there are plenty of cost-effective solutions that can substantially improve acoustics and improve your space’s decor. Squash echoes where they start by breaking up hard surfaces in your room with soft fixtures. Try deadening room acoustics with curtains, wall hangings, an area rug, or even a large plant. And remember, it’s the space you’ll be the one working in most so select deadening decor that can double for creating a comfortable workspace and vibe. And whether you do your best work sitting or standing, an ergonomic chair and/or a standing desk can make all the difference.
Building Confidence and Skill Delivers Return on Investment
As we’ve discussed, you don’t have to break the bank to transform a basic recording room into a studio-quality capture space. Upgrading to JBL Studio Monitors, AKG Professional Mics and Headphones and Soundcraft Notepad Mixers is a simple, affordable way to step up your game. As you get more and more comfortable using your gear, your capturing skills will develop and your clients will embrace your confidence to guide their art in new directions. In time, you will be able to shape your setup into a unique signature of excellence.
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